Close to 100,000 homes and 6,000 businesses are without Comcast services due to Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s power shut-offs, the company told The Chronicle Monday.
The PG&E fire-prevention blackouts triggered widespread Comcast outages in the Bay Area.
Comcast didn’t immediately clarify cities and towns in the Bay Area that are impacted but said, “the locations would align with where PG&E power shutoffs are taking place.” Affected services affected include internet, landline and mobile phone services.
PG&E shut off power to 361,000 customers in 36 counties, including eight of nine Bay Area counties, beginning Sunday morning to brace for the strongest winds of the year. The utility sometimes shuts down power lines as a wildfire-prevention measure during highly dangerous wind conditions.
The shut-offs are expected to continue into Monday evening, PG&E said. Once fast, gusty winds subside, the utility will inspect its power lines and restore power in stages, with different geographic areas getting different restoration times.
Customers are frustrated, especially those that still have power but have internet outages because of the location of Comcast’s equipment.
“I couldn’t work (at home) today,” said Ruby Ballance, an accountant who lives in Oakland Hills and can turn her lights on but cannot use Comcast. “We don’t have phone or internet service, it’s a bad situation.”
Comcast said it can only restore service after PG&E restores power. Comcast initially relies on short term batteries to provide backup power to its network, spokeswoman Joan Hammel said via email. After the batteries run out of power, Comcast deploys generators for backup power where it can safely do so, she said.
“Certain vital infrastructure, including Comcast locations that serve cell towers, use permanent backup generators when commercial power is out. However, in a wide scale (utility fire-prevention) outage, it is not feasible for Comcast to deploy generators safely to every point in its network necessary to ensure that no customer loses service,” Hammel added.
Ballance ended up using her husband’s WeWork space to get work done. She said they don’t have any other option besides Comcast on her street, so they’re stuck with the service, or the lack thereof.
The coronavirus pandemic further complicates things.
“Before COVID, I was just able to go into the office or work at a Starbucks, but now we can’t do that,” she said. “At least I have WeWork. I can’t imagine what’s it like for folks who don’t or can’t have that.”